Shops face €10m cost for accepting credit, debit cards

Irish retailers are facing potential costs of around €10m this year for accepting payments via credit and debit cards.

The issue of so-called “interchange fees”, paid by the merchant to the cardholder’s issuing bank, is set to top the agenda at a seminar in Dublin’s Westbury Hotel today, hosted by payment consultancy, CMS Payments Intelligence.

“The rising costs of accepting credit and debit card payments is a serious additional cost that retailers really don’t need right now,” said CMS chief executive Brendan Doyle.

“There is usually no debate with merchants before charges go up, often there is no warning of increased charges and currently merchants just have to swallow the higher fees.”

Mr Doyle said the extra charges for retailers are likely to have a knock-on effect to consumers, as higher retailer costs usually mean higher shop prices.

A number of high-profile retailers — including the likes of Primark, Dixons and HMV — are attending today’s seminar, which is aimed at educating the retail industry about the implications of the new charges and on how the challenge can be met by the industry.

“In these times of austerity, many high-street retailers are struggling and are now facing sizeable additional costs for accepting payments for credit and debit cards.

“Over the last few months in Ireland, the major card-issuing banks have opted out of the domestic Laser scheme in favour of VISA debit cards. The card issuing banks are touting benefits of widespread international acceptance, with over 24 million VISA accepting locations worldwide. However, the cost to Ireland’s merchants to accept these cards is double that of the previously dominant Laser cards,” Mr Doyle said.

“Additionally, the recent policy from many major banks is to issue more and more “premium” cards, which carry much higher “interchange fee” bank charges for retailers. Interchange fees already represent around 80% and can be as high as 95% of a merchant service charge from banks,” he added.


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